My 2 Cents: Seems like MultiTouch is here to stay :O) Still this does seem like a novelty because of the price-tagâ€¦
Determined to make us jealous that our kids’ childhood experiences are more marvelous than ours, SMART Technologies will tomorrow unveil the SMART Table, a primary education "interactive learning center" (we’d rather call it Surface Jr.). It’ll be available Spring of next year, and will work out of the box with learning applications that can be operated by any number of kids and all their fingers. Other classroom multitouch devices are on the horizon, but most of them are a little further from market than this Canadian contraption, which includes custom lesson plans, gesture support and a (touted but unspecified) wide viewing angle. At $8,000 we’re not sure it’s an option for public schools whose budgets only have room for essentials, but if you work at a school that’s totally loaded with cash and think the kiddos would dig this, feel free to look at SMART’s short promotional vid after the break.
We got to play around with a SMART Table in a classroom full of lucky kids at Haines Elementary School in Chicago this morning, and we came away impressed with how much they loved it. The multitouch table is built on the same basic idea and hardware as Microsoft Surface — Vista PC, XGA projector, infrared camera — but it’s a custom patented SMART design, not Surface lite or anything like that. That said, the multitouch system isn’t quite as responsive as Surface, and the kid-proof plastic screen felt a little weird, but it certainly works well enough — the Table recognizes up to 40 touches (enough for six kids to play comfortably, we were told) and we saw some interesting demos, ranging from the standard rotate / zoom photo app to painting and puzzle games. Teachers get admin access with a special USB key that enables them to manage apps, and there’s an SDK in the works, so hopefully there’ll be quite a few to manage. SMART says the Table should start shipping next spring for somewhere between $7,000 to $8,000 each — obviously the company will be targeting school systems with its extensive SMART Board sales network, but well-off parents will be able to score one for their hopelessly spoiled darling children as well. Check a few vids of the table in action after the break.
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